Rome (Italy). From 7 January to 4 March 2022 the virtual pilgrimage in French took place on the places of the origins of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, with the participation of about fifty sisters aged 70 and over from France, Belgium, Germany, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Haiti, and Canada.
The experience, proposed for the years 2021 and 2022 in five languages – Spanish, Italian, French, English, and Portuguese – aims to ‘rediscover’, in this time of celebration of the 150° Anniversary of the FMA Institute Fondation, St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello in her Christian and Salesian vocational experience and, in the light of her journey, to re-read her own history in a sapiential and charismatic key.
The Pilgrimage included two weekly appointments coordinated by the Councilor for Formation of the FMA Institute, Sr. Nilza Fátima de Moraes, and by Sr. Leslye Sàndigo, Councilor for the Salesian Family and coordinator of the Mornese Project, with an FMA team and lay collaborators from various contexts. Sr. Clementine Têtê, of Mother of God Province (AFO), Sr. Michèle Decoster (FRB) of Our Lady of the Nations Province, and Sr. Ana Victoria Ulate Vargas of Mary Help of Christians Community of the Generalate (RCG) were the animators of this edition in the French language.
Through the virtual pilgrimage to the places of the Salesian charism in Turin, Mornese, Nizza Monferrato (AT), and Rome, the participants had the opportunity to deepen Salesian spirituality, in particular the Marian, missionary, and educational dimension of the Founders.
In the last encounter, the participants had the joy of listening to the Mother General of the FMA Institute, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, of knowing the Sisters of the General Council, and of expressing gratitude for this experience, a sign of care and formative attention towards the FMA of the different age groups.
One participant, on behalf of the whole group, said: “We have come to the end of a wonderful journey. We came from all over the world, without the need for a passport or a ‘green pass’. In our baggage we carry a great desire to go back to our origins, to rediscover those who, long ago, made us dream … and continue to make us dream: Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.
On this pilgrimage, we traveled several kilometers visiting cities that are very important to us and we did it without being afraid of our legs, sometimes a little trembling, because it was our heart that made us fly! The excellent guides accompanied us step by step. From one stage to another we have also traveled our lives and we have let ourselves be challenged by the many calls that have studded our lives and by the answers we have been able to give. The horizons of our life do not narrow; we still have a lot to give. With Mother Mazzarello and Don Bosco, we look to the future full of hope. Like them, we always count on Help of Christians, the powerful Virgin. We are her daughters and we are happy to be. Oh, qual sorte, we are Daughters of Mary Help of Christians!
All this was possible because we are a family and, in every family, there is a mother who is always careful to give the best to her children to see them happy. Thank you, Mother Chiara! We felt you were very present. We will be able to benefit from this precious experience. We are so grateful that we would like the experience to continue … so very soon, we will have to invent another pilgrimage, perhaps to Patagonia … Thanks to each and every one. It was lovely to meet again, to know each other, to share life. Our pilgrimage continues!”.
“This pilgrimage, through the contents and the ways of carrying it out, made us relive the spirit of our origins and the enthusiasm of our vocation as FMA and as missionaries”.
“The invitation to revisit the Cronistoria helped us to go back to the sources to better appreciate our charism”.
“Personally, I looked forward to each meeting with joy and, although I already knew some things, the presentation of the themes awakened in me the enthusiasm and a profound joy of being FMA. Thank you for this rich formation”.
“My commitment at the end of this beautiful experience is to advance enthusiastically in fidelity to our Founders, who continue to show us the way to proclaim the joy of the Gospel to young people”.
“This pilgrimage was very well presented and documented. We are very satisfied with this rich experience of reflection lived with our sisters from different Countries”.